Bookmark #9 Hamilton, Ontario

“Giants,” by John Terpstra


There used to be giants,
and they loved it here. They’d sit
their giant hinds in a row along the top edge
of the escarpment, and pick at the loose rock
— from “Giants” from Two or Three Guitars by John Terpstra, published by Gaspereau Press. Bookmarked in Hamilton on October 6, 2011.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

 

About John Terpstra and Giants

John Terpstra was born in Ontario two years after his parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands. The family spent eight years in Edmonton before returning to Ontario, settling in Hamilton. Terpstra graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and began a career in carpentry, cabinetmaking and writing poetry and non-fiction.

Terpstra has won a number of awards for his work, including the Arts Hamilton Book Awards, a CBC Literary Award and the Bressani Prize. He has been short-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, BC Award for Canadian Non-fiction and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

The poem “Giants first appeared in a book of non-fiction about Hamilton, called Falling Into Place, and was later reprinted in the poetry collection, Two or Three Guitars, published in 2006. Whether in non-fiction or in poetry, Terpstra’s theme is often place, and the place in question is likely to be Hamilton: its geography, its history and, as he says, “the way it gets into your head.”

Banner photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

giants.jpg

The Poem

Giants

There used to be giants,
and they loved it here. They’d sit
their giant hinds in a row along the top edge
of the escarpment, and pick at the loose rock
with their hands or their feet, then throw or skip
the smoothest stones across the bay, to see who could land one
on the sandstrip, three miles away;

or they’d spring themselves off the scarp top
like you would off a low wall, and go running
all the way to the end of the sandbar,
and jump across the water to the other side,
or jump in, splashing and yelling up the ravines,
chasing each other’s echoes.

This was only a few thousand years ago,
and the giants were still excited about the glaciers,
which were just leaving; about not having to wear
their coats all the time, and what
the ice and water had done, shaping and carving
this gentle, wild landscape!

They loved it here.

I’m telling you, they absolutely loved
every living minute here,

and they regretted ever having to leave.